Robin LernerWe recently posed this question to Robin Lerner, deputy assistant secretary for private sector exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and her staff.  As part of our regular agency liaison, NAFSA staff and David Elwell, chair of NAFSA’s International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice Committee (ISS-RP), met with  Ms. Lerner to discuss her vision and plans for the Exchange Visitor Program, which she oversees, and to convey the needs and concerns of the academic community.

Ms. Lerner accepted NAFSA’s offer to host a teleconference so that she could engage with the academic community, and we hope that you will participate. It’s a great opportunity for members of the academic community who have an interest in the Exchange Visitor Program to learn how the program will be managed going forward.

If you’re wondering “where have I heard of Robin Lerner,” you may be recalling the guidance concerning Confucius Institutes that she issued last May. She was also quoted regularly in the media last year concerning the Summer Work/Travel Program. Many NAFSA members will recall her predecessors Rick Ruth and Stanley Colvin. As the new deputy assistant secretary, Ms. Lerner brings new ideas to the role, and we think it’s important for the academic community—especially those who administer J-1 programs—to hear about them.

The teleconference will take place on Thursday, January 31, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. (EST).  Ms. Lerner has indicated that she will share her thoughts on the Exchange Visitor Program, address the concerns of Responsible Officers and Alternate Responsible Officers who administer programs at academic institutions, and answer participants’ questions. There is no charge to participate in this event, but you must register.

The International Scholar (Exchange Visitor Program) Subcommittee of NAFSA’s ISS-RP will gather questions submitted through IssueNet, forward them to Ms. Lerner, and ask her to address them during the teleconference. If you have a question for Ms. Lerner, please submit it through the Report an Issue function of IssueNet by Wednesday, January 23, 2013.